My children refer to me as the show killer. If I am drawn to a show that has any kind of supernatural theme it dies. My kill ratio is almost without exception, there have only been one or two survivors. Invariably if the theme is people with special abilities or if the show is set in an alien or space landscape the program will get its initial 13 episodes and then be gone.
Vampires, witches, aliens, people who do not age and unnaturally gifted people, these are the shows that strike my fancy. Apparently theses shows strike quite a few people’s fancies because every television season a new crop of shows about the undead or people who can see through the boundaries of this mortal coil arise. The question becomes why do we like these shows?
Over time I have returned to that question and pondered it. My thoughts on the topic are three fold when it comes to television serials involving these groups of people. First, we are drawn to worlds where the rules of our world don’t apply. Second, there is this death-eroticism nexus that intrigues us. Finally there is the pretty people factor.
On the first point I offer this. Most people, not all, but most people that plop down in front a video device to watch a program about vampires or young people on an abandoned world or people who hop between time periods are folks whose lives are really rather regimented. We go to work. We drop off the kids. We do the grocery shopping. We mow the yard. We have sex on Friday night or Sunday morning. Regimentation rules our lives. Rules rule our lives.
We face deadlines and dress codes. We are overbooked and our lives have no margins. Thus when we see people who don’t give a flaming fuck about the rules and live in an alternate world to our own, maybe interacting with us, or maybe not it offers us an escape. We are able to live out mentally a little fantasy about draining the blood from those who constrain us and further of making them slaves to our will. We want the freedom of those living in the alternate universe together with the excitement and the danger.
iZombie is a favorite of mine. Liv tries to live to a human moral code while driven by an internal Zombie lust for brains that is raging and uncontrollable. We can empathize with that. We love the complexity these characters have to navigate. Why, because we have to navigate complexity but ours is so boring and so mundane. We want to break the rules and when we are watching fantasy we applaud those characters who without hesitation break centuries old codes. For a great example of these check out the Dusk ‘til Dawn television series.
The death eroticism thing cannot be underestimated. We are all scarred out of our minds by our own mortality. If we think on it too long at a stretch we get palpitations and our guts churn and we hyperventilate. Each and every single one of us is going to die and we don’t, we really don’t, want to go. So what is the antithesis of death? Why the antithesis of death is wild sex, abandoned and filled erotic passion.
If we make the characters vampires you can even blend these two elements. Pale but pretty undead creatures go at it like Montana Wildhack in some blue tinted porno about naughty nurses gone berserk on a sex stimulant. We want an explosive release from our mortality. Watching the beautiful undead having passions, having sex, having elegance (don’t forget they are always drinking blood or fine wines at tables with the best silver and exquisite porcelain on white line with lots of candles) we for a few moments get that. We can overlay our passions, the ones we thought would be eternal, on these story lines.
Don’t ever forget the third element, the pretty factor. No single being in a fantasy show that is going to last more than an episode is other than young and beautiful. The men are hard bodies who spend lots of time shirtless showing off their six packs. The women are buxom and always busting out of leather garments that barely constrain their bosoms. When like pretty people. We react to pretty people. If no one is around we masturbate to beautiful people doing hot dirty things. Yeah combine these three factors and we are drawn to these shows like moths to a flame.
Me, I just happen to pick the ones that have themes that are just not romantic enough. Time travel is always the sugar that lures me into the amber. But vampires and their passions, their blood and eternal struggle, these are the folks that hit all the major points above for most people.